I ask myself the same question every January. Did I really have to lose the plot over the 12 days of Christmas? That box of Terry’s Chocolate Orange would have safely sat for months on a shelf. Instead it’s now sitting on my inner thighs! Will I ever learn? Probably not but, I enjoyed every morsel, every cheese ball and every drop of Shiraz that washed it down.
The beauty is we get to hit the reset button this month and if ever we needed a reset it was after 2020.
I almost relish the challenge every year after my indulgences. Out with the old and in with new, and all those good vibes.
Veganuary is now a thing, as is dry January, and I for one embrace both. The Shiraz is on hold and the plant-based ideas running around my head all last year are coming to fruition, and to the table.
Once upon a time — 28 years ago — I lived in Italy. There are many fine things to love about Italy but the fact that they eat cake, or cookies for breakfast surely has to make the top-10 list.
Here’s a great recipe for a vegan and sugar-free cake. (I also happen to make it gluten free with a simple adjustment.) It ticks all the boxes in our house, packed with pineapple, applesauce, bananas and seeds. It’s not specifically Italian in nature — I wrote a whole other book on cakes that are —but I feel it would be welcomed on any breakfast table nonetheless. Time to brew that espresso and hit the reset buttons.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour* (see notes)
3 Tbsp ground almonds
½ cup nuts or seeds of choice
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup avocado oil
½ cup each of mashed banana, crushed pineapple, applesauce and water
½ cup granulated monk fruit, coconut sugar or brown sugar* see notes
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz vegan cream cheese or cashew cheese, softened
2 Tbsp soft vegan butter
½ cup powdered sugar or powdered erythritol
A few drops of natural food coloring or beetroot powder
Edible flowers (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F (175C)
Grease or spray a 9” round baking tin.
Stir together the flour, almonds, nuts, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl mix all the wet ingredients together. Gently mix the flour and dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Combine until well blended.
Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake; it should come out clean. I also like to press gently on the top center of the cake and if it springs back the cake is done.
Cool in the pan preferably on a cooling rack.
For the Icing:
Beat all ingredients, except the edible flowers together until light and fluffy.
Spread over the cooled cake with a spatula. Sprinkle with the edible flowers.
We make this cake with all purpose gluten-free flour. I like to use King Arthur but any brand should work. I also add a ½ tsp of xanthan gum to my mix.
This cake is made sugar-free with a little addition of monk fruit. I’ve also made it with coconut sugar, brown sugar and organic cane sugar.
You can use any oil of choice here but I’m really partial to the fruity flavour of olive oil in my cakes.